How Does a Radiation Therapist Functions?
Radiation TherapistIf you are wondering what radiation therapy is all about and how does radiation therapist performs, then you have reached the right place. Here, you will find everything that you need to understand about radiation therapy. As from the name, it is clear that radiation therapy is a treatment, which involves treating patients by exposing them to radiations that kills tumours.
Radiation beams consist of X-rays as discovered by Roentgen. These extremely powerful rays kill cells by penetrating the DNA and making them functionally inactive. A significant advantage of using this technology is that the x-rays do not cause any harm to the epithelial tissues such as skin tissues and can pass through them without harming them. Thus, doctors can use this technique externally without having to operate patients making it one of the most economical and safe solution.
A radiation therapist is responsible for deciding the right dose of radiation and the spot where it is required to subject. It is primarily a therapist’s job to find out the target tissues and radiate them using external mechanism by adjusting the level of intensity of x-rays to treat a patient. In general, a therapist makes use of multiple sharp monochromatic beams of x-rays to focus them at the target. Many low-intensity radiation beams converge upon from different directions to target tissue.
Using this technique, the therapist can pass low-intensity radiation through the skin of the patient without harming the external tissues. Multiple low-intensity beams converge upon the spot that requires irradiation, after which the beams interferes constructively to cause amplification in their intensity, which is responsible for causing dysfunction of DNA – a building block of life. On disrupting DNA in a cell, the cellular function disrupts eventually causing the death of the cell. Radiation therapy is thus effective against most malignant tumours and cancerous growths.
There are different ways through which a radiation therapist can administer radiation therapy to patients. One of the preferred means is external radiation, but in case the patient has tumour growth deep inside, then there is an increased risk that external radiation therapy may cause harm to healthy living cells. Hence, under such circumstances, a therapist may resort to Brachytherapy or Radioisotope therapy (RIT). Both treatments exclude using external radiation sources, as they destroy tumour cells situated locally.
In the case of Brachytherapy, small needles are inserted inside the body near the infested tumour tissues. These are by no means ordinary needles, as they contain radioactive samples, which can cause harm to the cells. The inserts remain in body surrounding the infected tissues and radiate to kill cancerous cells. Also, the radiation therapist makes use of RIT, which involves passing radioactive isotopes inside the body through ordinary ingestion means such as with health drinks or tonics. These isotopes then move into the bloodstream to reach the target site and kill tumours. Further, depending on the type of cancer, the therapist decides the method of irradiating the cells.
Often a cause of concern for most radiation therapist is making a right judgment by laying boundaries between healthy cells and infected cells. A wrong estimation may cause harm to lymph nodes also causing internal spreading of a tumour and hence, therapists need to be extra cautious.